Today’s Question: The external drive containing my Lightroom photo library is almost five years old, so I purchased a new drive to replace it. After cloning the original drive to the new drive I can’t seem to find a way to get Lightroom to find the photos on the new drive. How can I redirect the catalog to find the photos on the new drive?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The easiest approach in this scenario is to make sure that the “name” of the new hard drive matches the name of the original hard drive. That will ensure that Lightroom can once again find the photos where they are expected on the new drive.
More Detail: The Lightroom catalog is managing your photos based on the filename for each photo, the folder the photo is stored in, and the specific storage device that folder is on. When you clone all of your photos from an existing drive to a new drive, the folder and filename structure will obviously be the same as it had been previously. However, the hard drive itself will have a different “name”.
For Macintosh users the name of the hard drive is referred to as a Volume Label, and it really is simply a name. For Windows users the drive is identified by a drive letter, such as “C” for your primary internal hard drive. In either case you’ll need to note the volume label or drive letter that Lightroom is expecting. You can find this as the header for the drive on the Folders list of the left panel in Lightroom’s Library module, or by connecting the drive and browsing it with your operating system.
You can’t have two drives with the same identifier, so you’ll then need to disconnect the “old” drive and reconnect the “new” drive. For Macintosh users, you can then simply right-click the hard drive in the operating system, choose Rename from the popup menu, and then type the name to match that of the original hard drive you are replacing.
For Windows users you can first right-click on the Start button and choose Disk Management from the popup menu. Then right-click on the drive you want to change the letter assignment for, and choose “Change Drive Letter And Paths” from the popup menu. Then click the Change button, choose the appropriate drive letter from the popup, and click OK to confirm the change.
Once you have updated the hard drive identifier to match that of the old hard drive, when you launch Lightroom there will no longer be any confusion about where your photos and folders are located, so you will see that your photos no longer appear “missing” within Lightroom.